i do not love nature, wilderness, the wild. i do not want to explore or discover. Imagine many quotation marks here. this is shallow discourse for the vastness of my being in relation.
hold and treat as dear
care for tenderly
my relationship to the land and waters.
respect and reciprocity are the foundation of this relation
and the humbleness I feel in my relationship to the land, the generosity of teachings offered when you listen, the generosity of that which gives life to all that I love.
i conduct myself in ways that honour this relationship and those that teach me the conduct of honouring this relationship.
the land and i have known violence that is colonial…violence that has tried to sever our relationship.
violence that has tried to sever my connection to my ancestors and teachings that come from the lands of my blood.
violence that has disrupted my understanding of my body as the land
that to love the land is to love my body.
how is your land? what is the work you do to decolonize it?
take time. take time to let the land in and through.
i have to seek this every day, overcome anxiety and depression, comparisons and disruptions to my self-worth. take time to breathe deep the freshly made air of the boulevard trees in this urban place that is the land too
just because there is concrete does not make it any less the land and i dig my hands into deep the soil of “property,”
listen to the voices of birds and winds, pick out the subtle shape of stars that have the power to shine through the city light.
in secret-sacred ways that i know and feel despite and through this place.
my skirt teachings come as a gift from a maliseet woman.
i began wearing to skirts to hide my body in folds and the billowing of cloth
to hide the shape of my body from violence. her gift to me in the teachings she holds redefine this relationship in an attempt to bring love back into my body and my relationship to the land, in an attempt to share the knowledge of violence we have experienced, but also the intimacy of our survivance.
my skirt is no longer a place to hide, but a flag of resistance and relation.
as i move over/with the land, the land can recognize me as sister, kin, sacred.
each intentional step is an intervention, is a prayer to remember this
I grew up in a metropolitan city that’s 5 times the population of Vancouver, then moved to a small town in Nova Scotia during my teenage life. From there I was confronted with Racism and systemic discrimination, lead me to learn about colonialism and its damage to my mental health. After moving to Vancouver about 15 years ago, it began my healing journey, with my body and the land. I began to understand the importance of nature to co-exist with the city; the importance of the body to co-exist with the spirits. I started to recognize the barriers in each one of us systemically and ideologically, at the same time, I started to find the interconnectivity within each one of us as well—not only to the people, but to all things, even consciousness–all our relations. I carry and present my body differently since.
My relationship with the land and nature also radically shifted as well. I can feel the vibration of the earth and frequency of the spirits. I became much more aware of my connections with the world and the impact we all of on each other. In some of the darkest time in my life, I saw light. These lights comes in different forms and dimensions. For me, I make art with projection, media, sound, body and dance to share these lights.
Being away from cities always feels freer. Not just being separated from crowds and noise, although that’s a part of it, but being free from many of the ways we mold our bodies to fit different parts of society. I can let go of facets of my identity that are tied into existing amidst people, and be messy, and dirty, and a joyful calamity of a person
As a member of settler society, I have become aware of my own connection to the land. And in becoming aware of that, I’m more aware of the deep connection indigenous people have to their land. My connection of the land is of someone who grew up in this area, who calls no other place home, but it doesn’t have the weight of language, and culture, and an existence since time immemorial. That connection is one that should be respected for it’s depth, and its importance.
I have a deep love and respect for the land I live on, but I feel that I am quite disconnected from it. As much as I care for the earth, I don’t feel a continuity between me, my body and the land.
I think I had a better connection to the land and the natural world as a kid. But as I got older, I spent less time with nature, and I think I was taught increasingly to disconnect from it – and that is something I regret deeply. When I was younger, I felt at home when I was outside interacting and connecting with the earth. Now I feel, to a large extent, like that part of me has been buried (but, hopefully, not lost).
I am a white settler who lives and works uninvited on the land of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Skwxwú7mesh and Tsleil-Waututh nations. I know that I have benefited from the ongoing processes of settler-colonialism – and I know that it is my responsibility to work to help dismantle the settler colonial system.
What has changed is my awareness of my role in these relationships. With this awareness I am working to adjust how I move through the world and I am working to contribute to the deconstruction of settler colonialism in the ways that I can. This includes continuing to learn what I need to learn, and to unlearn unhelpful things I have been taught in the past.
From a young age, the forest was a place for play and exploration. As I grew older, I became more aware of our impacts on coastal forests and how few remained. My childhood naivety gave way to reverence. What does your connection between your body and the land mean to you? The forest is still a place for imagination and adventure, but so much more so, it is a place to ground myself. It strips away the anxieties of civilization and allows me to simply exist for the moment.
As a second-generation immigrant, navigating the dynamics of settler-colonial relations takes on additional meanings. In Filipino culture there is an innate respect for elders. When it comes to stewardship of the land, we call home, we must venerate the indigenous voices that have watched over this place for millennia.
I feel like my body is an extension of the land. What happens to the land, in a way, happens to my body. For example… the pollution that is killing the earth is also killing us.
My roll is as an activist fighting alongside those that have had injustices placed among them. Indigenous communities, black communities, Latino and others. That hasn’t changed.
In recent weeks since having initiated a desperate change in my life and a renewed focus on mental and physical health, I found solace in nature when integrating it more regularly into my daily journey. It provided calm acuity to my surroundings as a reprieve from a tumultuous mind prone to distraction while under duress. The environment and the vivacity of life within it, can cleanse the mind and soothe the body and provide sustenance for the spirit, reminding one that they are not a separate, lonesome entity, instead an integral component of a healthy system. We all seek to belong and feel accepted, yet we already do and have been.
The history of a community that has imbued its culture and communal education so deeply with a profound reverence for the natural world and the cycle of impact it has to and from humans, is something that many of us who live in this beautiful land have not had the fortune to learn from. As a Caucasian descended from settlers with an unclear personal lineage and no sense of family history, I feel disconnected from what flows through me and how my ancestors might have contributed to devastation and racial aggressions. The role I am pursuing is to be a proponent of increasing cultural compassion and sincere curiosity for that which does not belong to me, but that I can only respectfully observe and listen to.
John and Wren
I grew up in Treaty 7 territory, near Lethbridge, Alberta. I grew up with poplar trees and willows, trees that grow quickly, fall down in the wind and the floods, and make room for new trees to grow. I moved to BC about 14 years ago and was amazed at the size of the trees here, but I’ve come to know that even the biggest trees in Vancouver are relatively new. We live in the aftermath of intensive logging, where even the biggest trees are just tokens of what was once one of the mightiest forests on earth. It means a lot to me that I can visit the forest without traveling far. The trees still seem big to me, but enormous rotting cedar stumps, with notches for springboards, leave clues about a bigger forest that was once here.
I didn’t grow up recognizing that I am a colonist and a guest on this land. Even though I recognize this now, I still don’t know the right way to live here. I know that I am not alone, as a colonist, struggling with this challenge. I also know that this is my personal task in reconciliation between First Nations people and colonists.
Recently I learned something about canoe protocol of the First Nations people of the west coast. When visitors arrive, they are expected to introduce themselves, declare their intention for their visit, state how long they plan to stay, and ask permission to land. My name is John Kastelic. My great grandfather moved to Turtle Island from Yugoslavia, the part that is now Slovenia. No one in my family has ever asked permission to be here, but while I am here my intention is to speak truthfully, to make music that tells my story, to listen to the stories of others, to
study massage therapy so that I can make a positive difference
in the lives of others, and to raise my daughter to be respectful of
the land and all its people.
I do not know how long we will stay.